Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Seeing her off

There are still twelve minutes to go before the train leaves. Standing on the platform, he hands her the backpack he has been carrying. She slings it over her right shoulder, letting one strap dangle free. She also has a large shopping bag, its straps cutting into her left arm. And her purse. Weighed down by all this, she looks like some sort of pack animal, bags bulging out on both sides. When he reaches over to hug her goodbye he cannot get his arms around her. Nor can she raise her arms to hug him back. They embrace tentatively, awkwardly, like crabs scuttling together, their shells in the way. This will not do. Stepping back, she slips the bags from her arms, places them carefully to one side, then comes forward to embrace him again. This time his arms encircle her waist easily, hers slide around his neck. They kiss.

Two minutes later they are still kissing, oblivious to the people passing by.

Three minutes later she is drawing back, pushing her hair back in place, bending to pick up her bags. With them safely on her shoulders again she grows casual, distant. She waits patiently while he touches his fingers to her cheek, then nods a hasty goodbye, climbs into the train, vanishes.

For a moment he considers following her. There are still seven minutes to go. He could help her settle in. But no, entering the train itself feels like an intrusion. He draws back from the door, backs up against the nearest pillar. He will just wait until the train leaves.

For a while he just stands there, whistling softly to himself, trying not to wonder why she doesn't come out again. He checks his watch. Still five minutes left. She probably thinks he's gone home already. He could go in, surprise her. No, that would seem too needy. Why doesn't she come out and say goodbye? Maybe he could just walk along the side of the train, peering into the windows until he spots her. No, that's absurd. He doesn't want to make a scene. It would be best if she came out. It's the least she could do, after he's come all this way to see her off. What is she doing in there anyway?

With three minutes left to go, she finally makes an appearance. Beaming, he steps forward to meet her. They embrace once more, whisper one last goodbye. He is happy now. There are still two minutes to go but he figures he might as well leave. She'll be okay now. No point hanging around. On the way up the platform stairs, he keeps turning to look back at her, as if to reassure himself that she's still there. She is. She stands in the door of the coach, pressed to one side to let other passengers in, watching him until he reaches the top of the steps. Then, when he is out of sight, she goes back to her seat, settles into it with a small sigh. One minute later the train pulls out of the station.

People are so silly. People are so beautiful.



confused said...

And you write so beautifully!

For all your claims about being a snob and such, you are capable of empathy of the rarest kind, I hope you don't take your claims of being a snob seriously.

(I don't)

Anonymous said...

Brings back each and every goodbye I said to my boyfriend over a period of 4 years. Just had to subsitute an airport for the train station.
I am not sure if there is beauty in it though. The sadness at having to leave is painful.

dirty ol' hag said...


Mersault said...

Ah..come know there will be a section of regular followers of your blog who will 'identify' with this post,some who wish they could identify and rest who will snigger and go "Yeah right! look now who is getting all schmaltzy!"

After readers are so silly. They are so beautiful.

mk said...

Can’t believe you are drawing in the rabble already! I mean just a little bit of whoring and! Read somewhere that aspiring writers, experimenting and trying to find that writing niche would do well to stick to one simple rule-follow in the styles of the books/authors you love. So a Dostoyevsky lover trying to write like a Sheldon or vice versa, both run the risk of sounding artificial and forced. For me, no where is this artifice more evident in your story than at the end- the people are so silly/beautiful bit. Crrrap!! I sense your masked derision and despise poisoning the entire post.
Maybe you should blog stuff like this under a more fitting name-say Rhett Butler. (I actually like GWTW :(, grew up on it) I doubt if the RB/Falstaff readership will overlap at all.

Falstaff said...

confused: thanks. Though I wouldn't dismiss my snobbishness quite so soon

Anamika: I think beauty, in these cases, is entirely in the eye of the beholder. Partings are always touching if you're not the one actually saying goodbye.

vatsala: :-).

mersault: Ah, schmaltzy. Such a lovely word. Agree completely.

mk: Whatever. Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn!

Aishwarya said...

The long distance relationship. Sigh. One goes through this far too often.


Anonymous said...

A very nice one! Liked it. :)


Anonymous said...

Bloggers should be thankful that the medium allows for mediocrity wihout making too much of it!

Anonymous said...

I meant without not wihout

Falstaff said...

Aishwarya: Thanks. i don't know about long-distance though. I mean, this is New Jersey Transit we're talking about, and she's only carrying a backpack. Probably more like a day-trip.

N: thanks

anon: *being thankful*

Anonymous said...

[I mean, this is New Jersey Transit we're talking about, and she's only carrying a backpack. Probably more like a day-trip.]

Hm, "whimsy"?? or "life"? ;-)


Manic Street Preacher said...

parting. common man's burden. dramatic, u know...
jus dropped by...

confused said...

As long as you don't ban me for leaving daft comments, you are not snobbish enough. :)

I see your lovely ''trolls'' are hard at work, still. :)

-Mahjabeen said...

I dont know about this one-
It was definately really good writing, but it doesnt have that edge to it- the bizareness that i think defines some of your writing-

drifting leaf said...

me like silly people lots...

mk said...

In my trollish defense, I really like most of Falstaff's writing and have said it too on occasion. Can't be adoring ALL the time. (sniff)

Falstaff said...

N: Yes, I debated that one. Basically saw this scene actually unfold while sitting in a train on my way to NYC last weekend. Finally decided to go with Whimsy.

manic street preacher: Err..thanks.

confused: No, no. True snobs never want to ban anything. If they banned everything they disapproved of, then what would they have to be snobbish about?

mahjabeen: Hmmm. I suspect it may have to do with the fact that this is not fiction (see comment to N above). I considered making it more bizarre, then decided to just stick with the truth. So much for truth being stranger than fiction.

leaf: yes, I know.

mk: :-). There there.

confused said...


I got the message. :)


My bad! Sincere apologoes.

mk said...


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